The Invitations

The entire tone of the 2002 Hogwarts Celebration was set when my guests received their personalized parchment invitations by Owl Post. When they saw those, they knew they had to attend the party by all means, just to see what else I would be doing! heehee... Would you like to see why? Read on...

The Invitation

Being a complete child of the digital age, usually I only send email invitations for my other parties like Halloween or Mardi Gras, but for a Hogwarts party, I knew I MUST send out paper invitations, preferably somehow by, why not have the owl on the outer envelope, with the "real" parchment letter enclosed?

I had also lived in the same gigantic apartment complex (buildings A through EE!) for four years, and the complaint I always had from guests was that they couldn't figure out how to find my, why not include a Marauder's Map-inspired map of "Hogwarts" showing people how to find the "Great Hall" which was my apartment? Hee hee...this was getting fun!

Letter from McGonagall

What else? Oh, of course this should be one of the annual letters from McGonagall, complete with green ink lettering and green Hogwarts wax seal, then I also decided to have an official invitation with the Hogwarts crest, since this was a "celebration in honor of the birthday of Mr. Harry Potter" after all.

Here is the full text of McGonagall's letter:

Owl Post Envelope
Now that I knew everything I was going to include, it was time for the design and construction. I drew the owl holding the scroll in pencil, then scanned it into my Mac and made the image transparent in Photoshop. Since the plain black and white image looked too plain, I airbushed the shading in by hand in Photoshop.

One extra detail was the postage stamps I used. I searched and searched on the USPS website for any owl stamps, but no luck, so I ended up with unique carnivorous plants, which at least seemed to fit in with a possible Herbology class. At least they were more interesting than they could have been with American flags or brightly colored Happy Birthday! :)

Map of the Hogwarts Grounds
I used the same technique for the map, but by starting with a digital photo of one of the green apartment complex gate placard maps, which I changed to black and white, then inverted to get black on white. I traced the authentic highlights of that map onto a new sheet, then added the detail like the Whomping Willow and Hagrid's Hut. After scanning my hand-drawn map and making it transparent in Photoshop, I added solid color, the gold grain texture for the roads, all the text, and the Hogwarts seal and saved as a TIF for layout use in Pagemaker.

The green "embossed" Hogwarts crest used on both the letter and the invitation began as the same full-color crest as on the map but changed to grayscale in Photoshop, then filtered over with green and the Photoshop "embossing" filter.

All the layout & printing was done in Pagemaker using the Lumos font I found online, created by fellow Potterphile Sarah McFalls:

Seal Stamp

I made the Hogwarts seal myself out of Sculpey craft polymer clay you bake in the oven to harden, molding the basic shape the correct size for a seal, leaving a large enough amount for the handle, then I used a toothpick and a straight sewing pin to carve in the detail, every so often gently mashing it back down onto the smooth flat table so I knew the design would still be the same. After I got it looking like I wanted (remember, everything you carve into the seal stamp will end up as a bump in the wax seal), I baked it according to the Sculpey instructions, with the seal side face down on the smooth foil so I knew it would stay flat while baking.

Stamping the Seal
After it was fully cooled and I practiced quite a bit to be sure I wouldn't accidentally ruin any of my painstakingly individualized invitations, I used it oiled and chilled with the green sealing wax on each individual invitation. (I actually used FauxWax from since it is more flexible and therefore easier to mail than resin sealing wax). I would not recommend Sculpey for a seal that would get a lot of long-term use over years and years, but I used what I had available at the time. I've made at least 100 seals by now, but I am still careful each time to make sure it is well oiled and chilled, otherwise bits of the white Sculpey end up in the dark green wax seal.
Hogwarts Wax Seal

Since I could not find parchment envelopes in quarter-page notecard size, I used ivory envelopes for the "owls" and parchment paper for everything else. Each letter was addressed personally to the recipient, along with each owl envelope, but the invitations and maps were all the same. All the parchment paper edges were trimmed by using my rotary paper cutter with the "deckle" blade. I assembled all the pieces, sealed them with the green wax, and voila!

My Chocolate Frog Box & Card set,
Bertie Botts Boxes, Owl Holding Scroll image,
Hogwarts wax seal stickers, and other items are now
for sale at my Etsy store.
Chocolate Frogs & Bertie Botts Owl Holding Scroll Sealing Wax Stickers

The Preparations The Decorations The Wizard Fashions The Sorting Ceremony The Recipes The Party!

Teeny Britta Blvd